Germany Signs Off Funding for FCAS and Poseidon

 - June 26, 2021, 5:15 AM
An artist's impression depicts a P-8A Poseidon in German navy colors. (Photo: Boeing)

Germany’s parliamentary budget committee this week approved the defense ministry’s requested €50.3 billion (€60 billion) budget for 2022 in Berlin. The budget includes crucial funding for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) that is being developed jointly with France and Spain for service entry around 2040. Announced via social media by Germany’s defense minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the FCAS funding had earlier been contested in parliament, primarily on account of the system's planned ability to deliver nuclear weapons, and also over morality questions concerning the use of armed unmanned air vehicles.

The news was welcomed in Paris: “The Bundestag has just approved a crucial step for the construction of the FCAS and our future European fighter aircraft,” said Kramp-Karrenbauer’s French counterpart,  Florence Parly. “It will be operational in 2040 and is meant to be the spearhead of our air power. Together, we continue to build a strong and concrete European defense.”

The German decision on June 23 follows the recent formalization of the industrial engine team for the Next Generation Fighter (NGF) that is at the core of the FCAS program. It clears a major hurdle for continued FCAS development by providing funding for Phase 1B and Phase 2. Under the current schedule, the FCAS team plans to fly an NGF demonstrator in 2027.

In the same budget the Bundestag has formally approved funding for the purchase of five Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrollers to provide an ”interim” capability to follow the accelerated 2025 retirement of the German navy’s aging P-3C Orion fleet. U.S. State Department approval of a possible sale was given in March, and an order is expected imminently. The P-8A—already in service with the UK and on order for Norway—was selected over the Airbus C295MPA, Rheinland Air Services RAS-72 Sea Eagle (based on the ATR72 airliner), and second-hand Dassault Atlantique 2s.

A week prior to the announcement, Boeing signed agreements with German companies ESG Elektroniksystem- und Logistik, and Lufthansa Technik to explore potential areas of collaboration in the fields of P-8 system integration, training, support, and sustainment. The company statement noted that the memorandum of understanding “may lead to more definitive agreements should Germany select the P-8A Poseidon as its next maritime surveillance aircraft.”

UPDATE: On June 30 the German Ministry of Defence signed a Letter of Acceptance for five P-8As under the Foreign Military Sales program, becoming the eighth customer for the Poseidon.